Closing submissions in Ewingar plane crash trial

THE jury in the trial of a pilot whose plane hit powerlines and plunged into the Clarence River at Ewingar in 2014 resulting in the death of 11-year-old Kayla Whitton has heard closing submissions.

John Crumpton, 55, of Goonengerry, faces charges of manslaughter, operating an aircraft recklessly to endanger the life of a person, operating an aircraft recklessly to endanger a person or property and flying an aircraft below 500 feet.

The charges relate to a crash in Mr Crumpton's Maule M-5 four-seater plane on April 12, 2014.

Crown prosecutor Jeff McLennan SC told the jury Mr Crumpton did not know there were height restrictions on how low you could fly in unpopulated areas.

Mr McLennan said he flew at least 420 feet below the legal height restrictions of 500 feet.

"This was a journey that would never be approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority CASA," he said.

The jury heard Mr Crumpton had never flown so low in the area of the crash before, but he had done so further down-river.

Mr McLennan said the jury must unanimously prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that Mr Crumpton was criminally negligent by his conduct of flying so low.

Defence barrister Tony Bellanto QC reminded the jury they must consider the level of criminal negligence Mr Crumpton displayed and whether it was deserving of serious criminal punishment.

Mr Bellanto highlighted there had been 119 crashes in 10 years by light planes into powerlines.

He told the jury there was no liaison between CASA and Essential Energy about the location of powerlines.

The jury heard Mr Whitton and his daughter Kayla had flown in 2013 with Mr Crumpton over Cape Byron.

Mr Bellanto said Mr Crumpton did every possible safety check on his plane before the flight.

"At the time he thought he was aware of all the hazards in the area," he said.

"If he wasn't aware of the powerlines and had taken steps to be aware, why should he be convicted."

The trial continues.



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